Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Republics vs. Democracies

As the last post for 2009, I reprise a perennial aggravation.

Reading a volume of Albert J. Nock’s essays, The Disadvantages of Being Educated, I came upon a footnote in one article, “A Study in Manners” (1925), in which Nock echoed my own impatient frustration with the promiscuous -- indeed, slatternly -- usage of the term democracy.

I wish to complain against the common and culpable use of the term democracy as a synonym for republicanism. Time and again one hears persons who should know better, talk about democracy in this country, for example, as if something like it really existed here. They discuss “democracy on trial,” “democracy’s weakness,” and so on, when it is perfectly clear that they refer only to the political system known properly as republicanism. The fact is that republicanism, which is a system theoretically based on the right of individual self-expression in politics, has as yet done but little for democracy, and that democracy is less developed in some republican countries, as France and the United States, than in some others, like Denmark, whose political system is nominally non-republican.*

Later, in a 1926 essay, Nock makes the piquant observation:

Those who speak of the United States as a democracy…are misusing language most ludicrously, for it is no such thing, never was, and was never intended to be. The Fathers of the Republic were well aware of the difference between a republic and a democracy, and it is no credit to the intelligence of their descendents that the two are now almost invariably confused.**

In that same volume, Nock expanded on the fundamental differences between democracy and republicanism in “Life, Liberty, and…” (1935), and offered an explanation for why Thomas Jefferson purportedly omitted a key term, property, from the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. It was, Nock avers, because Jefferson and the drafting committee assumed that “pursuit of happiness” included the omitted term:

“The pursuit of happiness” is of course an inclusive term. It covers property rights, because obviously if a person’s property is molested, his pursuit of happiness is interfered with. But there are many interferences which are not aimed at specific property rights; and in so wording the Declaration as to cover all these interferences, Mr. Jefferson immensely broadened the scope of political theory -- he broadened the idea of what government is for.***

Most of the Founders agreed on that point, that “pursuit of happiness” necessarily included the right to property. Such private property, Joseph Warren noted in 1775, is natural and necessary to an individual‘s freedom:

That personal freedom is the natural right of every man, and that property, or an exclusive right to dispose of what he has honestly acquired by his own labor, necessarily arises therefrom, are truths which common sense has placed beyond the reach of contradiction.

(Omission of the term property from the phrase, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” can be linked to the omission of an entire paragraph from Jefferson’s original draft, which castigates George III for condoning and encouraging the slave trade. The paragraph, and possibly even the term property from the phrase, were dropped from the final version to oblige the sensibilities of the southern delegates to the Continental Congress, many of whom were slave owners and who regarded slaves as real property. Northern delegates could not countenance the inclusion of slaves as property. Jefferson, though a slave owner, was an advocate of the abolition of slavery. But, this is entirely another issue.)

It is apparent that Jefferson’s phrasing is not broad enough for modern politicians and political commentators to admit. Or perhaps it is so broad it is beyond their cognitive abilities to grasp, just as the perception of a mountain is impossible to the epistemology of an ant. It is unfortunate that the term was omitted, because its retention might have saved the nation much grief, turmoil and bloodshed. The force and sanctity of its presence in the Declaration might have carried over into the Constitution itself, and served as a check on the ambitions and usurpations of several generations of elected altruists, humanitarians, and other property thieves.

But, recall all the cretinous explanations by Senators and Congressmen of the power of Congress to establish socialized medicine. I have often remarked in this column that a republic, as the Founders intended it, denotes a form of government created to defend, uphold and advance individual rights. It is a system of the rule of law, of law enacted to protect individual rights. It is what the Constitution, as originally written and sans its statist (or interfering) amendments, is all about.

But the term republic is as foreign to our representatives as the term wendigo. In fact, Congress can be said to be currently populated by wendigos, and the White House occupied by an exalted vampire. They all creep stealthily and carefully by night, garbed in the protective hood and cloak of democracy, intent on drawing blood and feasting on the substance of their victims. Should the light of reason catch them off guard, they have nothing to say that means anything or that is meant to mean anything.

Democracy, whether pure or directly participatory (as in ancient Greece or New England), or via national plebiscite, is simply mob rule. Politely defined: majority rule. We have what could be said to be a representative government, but what is the chief function of our representatives, as opposed to their perceived function? Their actual, intended function was to serve as guardians of individual rights. Their perceived function, at least for the last century or so, is to patronize the real or imagined wants of the majority and to deliver them through coercive and confiscatory legislation.

With an Augean assist from public education, modern politicians and their allies in academia and the press have, over the course of a few generations, put over the fallacy that the term republic is synonymous with democracy, and so republic, to the ignorant and the ignorance-mongers, means majority rule, too. However, they prefer to emphasize the term democracy, because the other term has too many unsettling connotations, and the last thing our night-stalkers wish to do is cause uneasiness and curiosity among the ruled and the beguiled.

As Congress has ably demonstrated over the last two months, it is not representative in the first sense. It is dedicated to delivering imagined wants or “needs” to an electorate it claims demands them but has, at the same time, ignored that electorate. Democracy, Congress has demonstrated, begets tyranny.

John Adams, as have many others, warned against the temptation of democracy:

[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy; such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit, and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable [abominable] cruelty of one or a very few.****

This is an apt description of the current state of affairs. Americans are beginning to wake up to the fact that they have been the object of the capricious will of a president and Congress, and are expected to pay without protest, as a matter of duty, for the cruelties, frauds, vanities, and wanton pleasures of a powerful few. Political anarchy has been inaugurated, with politicians and their beneficiaries, heedless of or indifferent to the rumblings among the electorate, are scrambling to loot or defraud Americans of the last of their rights and wealth. Numerous fine essays have been written by contemporaries such as Walter Williams on the differences between republicanism and democracy, and what those differences can mean to productive Americans.

Perhaps, in 2010, we shall see the concrete differences described by Williams, Adams, Jefferson and so many others. The Tea Parties of 2009, hopefully, were but a prelude to a determined campaign to recover the republic created by the Founders.

*Albert J. Nock, “A Study in Manners,” in The Disadvantages of Being Educated and Other Essays (Tampa: Hallberg Publishing Corp., 1996), p. 50.

**Ibid.,” Towards a New Quality-Product,” pp. 67-68.

***Ibid., “Life, Liberty, and…” p. 29

****John Adams, The Papers of John Adams, Robert J. Taylor, editor (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1977), Vol. I, p. 83, from "An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, with the Author's Comment in 1807," written on August 29, 1763. First published by John Adams in 1807.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Facts are Stubborn Things

No better justice to President Barack Hussein Obama’s boast in the Washington Post of his political achievements can be done than to adapt portions of the Declaration of Independence to the subject of his accomplishments. Not all of the charges against George III in 1776 listed in Jefferson’s masterpiece are applicable. This charge sheet can also be leveled at Congress. I include only those offences which can be annotated. Call it not a parody, but a serious, appropriate, and well-deserved iteration.

The history of the present President of the United States is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

With artful disingenuousness, he promised Marxist tyranny during his campaign. Few believed him. Others were dumb-founded. Many applauded him, and voted for him. And the collectivists in Congress encouraged him, at the same time counseling him to soften his rhetoric so that it would seduce the impressionable and confuse but not frighten Americans. And, with the cooperation of his allies in Congress, he is delivering Tyranny. No one should be confused now. His politics are exclusively and demonstrably Marxist in theory and practice. Marx advocated dictatorship.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

Notwithstanding his professed concern for the “public good,” Obama has not advanced it by refusing to recommend the repeal of all fiat regulatory law. Instead, he has acted to expand the scope of such law over virtually every private and public action of American citizens, injuring the “public good” while benefiting those who have a vested interest in such expansion.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

What else to call his many czars? How many committees will be created by the health care bill recently passed by the Senate, after it is merged with the House version next month? Their purpose is to harass Americans and eat out not only their wealth, but their rights, to make Americans deferential and dependent on their wishes and commands. Defenders and advocates of the health care bills assert that they have been created from the best of intentions. But any intention that relies on force, compulsion, extortion, fraud, lies, and the confiscation of wealth and property necessarily results in evil.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

What are those “standing armies” today? The Internal Revenue Service and the Department of the Treasury. The Federal Reserve system. The DEA, the SEC, the ATF, the TSA, the FCC, Homeland Security, and the rest of the alphabet soup of federal power wielders. Not one of which was created with the consent of the governed or of any state legislature. Are they not indemnified against responsibility for their destructive intrusions, powers, and actions? Are they not independent of and superior to what remains of legitimate civil power?

Is not the health care legislation “pretended,” that is, beyond the clearly worded constraints on government power in the Constitution? In point of fact, is not all welfare and regulatory legislation -- whether acts of Congress or recent amendments to the Constitution -- merely “pretended” legislation, assented to by Obama and all his statist predecessors in office?

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

Has Obama not recently signed a law exempting Interpol from American law, thus subjecting Americans to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution? Was not one of the ends of the Copenhagen climate change conference this month to nullify American sovereignty in favor “global” law and to make Americans subject to alien and especially European jurisdiction? Was not Obama willing to surrender American sovereignty in the name of “global governance”?

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

This goes without saying. A “governed” people has no power or right of consent.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

Obama has become the Government, and, as with any ambitious dictator or tyrant, any and every person who opposes his powers and policies would necessarily be outside of his protection, because he has implicitly or actively waged war against such Americans. The Constitution was created to protect individuals from arbitrary power, wielded by either the president or Congress. Obama is acting in an extra-legal and extra-constitutional capacity.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Obama has excited class warfare amongst Americans -- the poor against the rich, the claimers of entitlements against those in the productive sector who must pay for them, the retired elderly against the working young, the incompetent and lazy against the able and the ambitious -- and has endeavored to perpetuate this warfare by stealthily conscripting members of ACORN, the Service Employees International Union, and affiliated organizations such as MoveOn, in addition to his swarm of czars, as the enforcers to harass and intimidate the middle class and the rich.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

On the “high seas” of the Internet, Obama encouraged Americans to report to him “fishy” information or rumors about health care reform expressed or repeated by other Americans, and asked them inform on their friends, brethren, and fellow citizens.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.

Through the summer and fall of 2009, hundreds of thousands of concerned and outraged Americans participated in dozens of massive “tea parties”; packed the “town halls” to express their displeasure with and opposition to health care legislation and other government invasions of their rights; caused dozens to Congressmen to sputter incoherently in reply to frank questions, or even to flee the confrontation; signed countless petitions to Obama and members of Congress to stop spending, legislating, and destroying their lives, livelihoods, and children’s futures; sent hundreds of thousands of faxes and made hundreds of thousands of phone calls to their senators and representatives, and even to the White House, to express their opposition -- but their efforts were answered with indifference, insouciance and repeated injury, by Obama and by members of Congress.

Obama himself has not dared to face Americans or the press without “papering the hall” with friendly cliques, courtiers, and shills, in rigged and contrived “town hall meetings” and press conferences, and allowed no questions to be asked of him that would require honest, forthright, and revealing answers. His vaunted policy of “transparency,” given the facts of his means and ends, has necessarily been one of habitual obfuscation and brazen dissemblance.

A President, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Need any more be said about the character and agenda of Barack Hussein Obama? A free people does not need, nor does it seek, a ruler. Which are Americans to be in the coming years? A free people confident that their president is acting in their interests as free men? Or a people that needs a ruler?

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Copenhagen Postmortem

If one ever wondered what it might have been like to be a well-read, rational, outspoken, and angry Roman before the barbarian hordes rode in to sack the city, perhaps living in the present would come closest to the trepidation.

Few of your countrymen assemble with you in the Temple of Minerva, goddess of wisdom, to discuss how best to throw back the approaching barbarians and to persuade an oblivious and indifferent Senate to stop its costly, spendthrift and foolish policy of bread and circuses for the populace. The Senate is deaf to wisdom, divided as it is into two camps: those who conduct pray-ins and make offerings to Jupiter, king of the gods, and who claim that Rome is in peril because the people have abandoned him and lost faith in him; and those who worship at the Temple of Ceres, goddess of the earth, whom they claim has told them that bountiful harvests can be had year-round by seeding the soil with confiscated salt. They assure themselves and an anxious populace that this way everyone can be fed and the barbarians bought off with endless cartloads of consumables.

America -- and by implication, Western civilization -- is the object of assault by three of its chief enemies, two of them alien to its shores, and one domestic: the Islamic jihad, European and international malice, and an administration and Congress determined to eradicate freedom. All three are bent on the conquest of this country. America is not to be hunted, caught and dismembered by anything as fierce as a lion or tiger -- or even by a barbarian. Rather, all three of its enemies resemble snarling jackals and hyenas vying for possession of the cadaver.

If an animal fable does not succeed in conjuring up an image of the scenario, imagine it in terms of Vlad the Impaler’s blood-drenched contest with the butchering Ottomans over who would rule the peasants.

In Copenhagen, the apparent enmity between prospective looters was such that they could not agree on how to “fairly” divide the carcass, even though the carcass’s representatives were there to surrender it. Instead of a binding “communiqué,” the conference produced a “note” or an “accord.” A Daily Telegraph article describes the degrading contest between the looters and the to-be-looted over drafts of the document:

There was one called "Outline." Then there was a version called "Copenhagen Accord" with major changes. Then another, with a note saying "Take 2" on it, then another with the same title. Some were handwritten.

Key demands of the environmentalists were off the table. Then they were back on again. And then finally, as the day, for some delegates, entered its 35th hour, there was what President Barack Obama's spokesman called a "meaningful deal".

The deal contained almost nothing that environmentalists had hoped for and did not even meet the modest goals that world leaders set themselves at the beginning of the fortnight. Before the summit started, they had already abandoned their original hope of a legally-binding treaty at Copenhagen.

In the end, the only substantial thing the looters got for their pains was a $100 billion commitment from the U.S. to help “developing” (read perpetually, never-to be-"developed" poor) nations control their greenhouse gas emissions, first announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and then by Obama, who had to leave the conference early because the winter in Copenhagen was so severe. Appropriately, he flew straight into a blizzard that ground Washington D.C. to a halt. Blame it on “global-warming” and the two-degree Celsius rise in temperatures. That is also the non-binding limit pledged by “developed” nations.

Liberal columnist Janet Daley in the Daily Telegraph “sort of “ gets Lord Christopher Monckton’s point about a Copenhagen climate treaty serving as the establishment of a world government (read United Nations) that trumps national sovereignty. She agrees that such a treaty requires the surrender of national sovereignty. But she won’t let go of the necessity to “do something” about “climate change,” so she wanders around in a fog of imponderables exuded by unexamined fallacies and premises, and wonders what’s next. She writes:

Except in the United States, where it became a very contentious talking point, the US still holding firmly to the 18th-century idea that power should lie with the will of the people.

The mere utterance of it was assumed to sweep away any consideration of what was once assumed to be the most basic principle of modern democracy: that elected national governments are responsible to their own people – that the right to govern derives from the consent of the electorate.

Of course. But consent is not in his lexicon. President Barack Obama doesn’t believe in the “will of the people,” but in the triumph of his own “will.” He will concede the “will of the people” only if it reflects a tolerance by the people for being indentured servants of the state to serve collectivist ends. Then it would be in concurrence with his own “will.”

This is also the policy adhered to by the Democrats in Congress. Never mind the will of the people, so massively demonstrated this year in Washington and in all the major cities: the people shall have government-mandated health insurance, whether or not they want it. Besides, constitutional scholars, such as Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, say that Congress can act to preserve and promote the “health” and “well-being” of Americans, because she and other delusional Congressional interpreters of the Constitution can read the invisible ink in the document. She is of the “elect,” and has that special sight not shared by the peasants.

Another major contributing problem is the idea of “democracy.” Some of the brightest critics of the American political system employ this term haphazardly and loosely. Democracy means: mob or majority rule. It is not synonymous with republic, which is what the Founders created to promote liberty and restrain government power. They recognized the principle of individual rights to life and property, to freedom of speech, and the right to defend those rights against violators foreign and domestic, with arms, if necessary.

The only principle recognized in mob rule is that there are no principles to uphold, defend or preserve. If the majority develops a dislike for “excessive incomes,” or smoking, or obesity or “global warming,” or whatever other bugbear some rabble-rousing fraudster or demagogue manages to work the people into a lather about, then the name of democracy is invoked and legislative action can be taken. Too often, however, the “majority” is fictive and represented by noisy, hired mobs or by big-budget lobbies on a campaign to punish the objects of their hatred in the name of humanitarianism.

Central and South American and African delegates to the Copenhagen conference, speaking as poor losers for their slave-driving dictator bosses, dismissed the whole affair and its non-binding "accord” as “undemocratic.”

On the anti-climatic climate conference, Daley notes that:

Nor was much consideration given to the logical conclusion of all this grandiose talk of global consensus as unquestionably desirable: if there was no popular choice about approving supranational "legally binding agreements", what would happen to dissenters who did not accept their premises (on climate change, for example) when there was no possibility of fleeing to another country in protest? Was this to be regarded as the emergence of world government? And would it have powers of policing and enforcement that would supersede the authority of elected national governments? In effect, this was the infamous "democratic deficit" of the European Union elevated on to a planetary scale. And if the EU model is anything to go by, then the agencies of global authority will involve vast tracts of power being handed to unelected officials. Forget the relatively petty irritations of Euro-bureaucracy: welcome to the era of Earth-bureaucracy, when there will be literally nowhere to run.

Nowhere to run -- except into the custody of the Green Gestapo.

The option of simply “going Galt” is looking more and more attractive as a means of withdrawing one’s consent. Either that, or a genuine revolt or revolution -- not just against a vulpine Congress and carnivorous international looters, but against the whole notion of “democracy” in the name of reason and individual rights.

It would be ironic, in contrast to the Southern states seceding from the Union in the name of a state’s right to countenance slavery, if America seceded from the United Nations and a world government in the name of freedom and in the cause of abolishing it. And saw removed from office every conniving, corrupt, oath-violating politician, and replaced them all with individuals who valued freedom and acted to defend and uphold life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.

In 2010, no matter what Congress and Obama do or fail to do to subject this nation to their “will,” Americans will be thronging again inside and outside the Temple of Minerva, as they did in 2009. They will be exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and to freedom of speech.

Nothing can stop them except the totalitarians in our midst and beyond our borders. Nothing can stop them except the initiation of force by our government, and the collectivists in the current administration are just itching to act. If armed goons and thugs break up these new “town halls” and arrest or punish their organizers, we can only hope that perhaps Americans will get the point better than did Janet Daley. Or Obama, or Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Obama’s War on America

Search through any of President Barack Obama‘s speeches, and buried under the glittering, worthless excelsior of opaque platitudes, silicic bromides and anemic banalities, one will find a pair or more of statements that mean something. They will mean something if one parses the statements armed with a knowledge of the man and of the power of words.

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on December 10th in Oslo, Norway was an easy rummage. Of course, any one of his speeches on America’s role and place in history and in the world has been a combination of an arrogant but rehearsed apologetic humility and a verbal flagellation of his own country for simply existing. It is these little nuggets of opalescence that win him the most applause from his friends in the audience, the ones who love to see America defeated, humbled, and knocked down to their own size -- the better to feed off of it through foreign aid and taxation.

Following the formulaic speechmaking of, say, the High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the Royal Order of Raccoons Lodge, Obama, addressing the Nobel committee, softened up his audience with a self-deprecatory reference to “the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. (Laughter.) In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage.” Which was intended as a joke about his not having done anything in international affairs to have earned him the Prize. It was awarded him because the committee was smitten by his campaign rhetoric of “hope and change” -- hoping that they were right about Obama that he was serious about dismantling the United States as a free country and changing it to one of their liking.

They read him correctly. That is precisely what he is doing, although resistance and opposition to the realization of that hope and change in the American population must have the distinguished members of the committee biting their nails or wringing their hands.

Here is one of Obama’s nuggets:

The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

“Billions” have been lifted from poverty? How? Only in free or semi-free countries. But, “billions” have also been kept in dependent penury through foreign aid from the West. A wall? Which wall? The Berlin Wall, which, when it fell, released millions from the kind of existence imposed on them by the kind of totalitarian, communist regime he wishes to implement here in the U.S. Note that he avoided the term “communist.“ There are several communists in his administration, along with creatures who are not communists but who have their own authoritarian agendas.

As for liberty, self-determination, equality and the rule of law, these are ideals which, in reality, Obama is haltingly obstructing or nullifying. The fortitude and foresight of presumably the Founders? To Obama, these are legacies to be frittered away or abandoned wholesale in the name of “social justice.”

Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Institute focuses on Obama’s remarks about war and the use of force. Obama endorses, as did George W. Bush, the policy of “just wars”:

And over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers and clerics and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a "just war" emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when certain conditions were met: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.

And if the civilians sanction the invasion of another country? Are they not culpable? Do they not produce the weapons and materiel that enables their armies to act? Do they not abet the violence visited on another nation? If they work in an aggressor nation’s war industries, they are just as legitimate targets as the tanks, planes, ships and munitions they help to produce. Without them, the tanks, planes and ships come to a stop and their guns cease firing. Journo, however, discusses the absolutely perilous and wasteful futility of fighting a “just war” in Iraq and Afghanistan, a policy which has hamstrung American military might and caused thousands of American deaths.

I endorse the concept of “proportionate” force. If Somali pirates hijack a Western ship or yacht and hold its passengers and crew at gunpoint for ransom, then every Somali base should be reduced to rubble and every mother ship and speedboat turned into floating debris. “Collateral” casualties should not be a concern. If “home-grown” or foreign terrorists commit another murderous atrocity here or abroad that kills Americans, then Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia -- the fundraisers and enablers of terrorism -- should be reduced to rubble swiftly, without mercy, and without concern for “collateral“ casualties. Those are “proportionalities” that would ensure the security of this country, as well as Israel‘s. These countries have, after all, declared war on the United States. Retribution is long overdue.

Another nugget, allied to Obama’s remarks on war and force, bears examination. Quoting Martin Luther King Jr. on the occasion of his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize:

"Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's nothing weak -- nothing passive -- nothing naïve -- in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

King was wrong. War has resulted in a permanent peace between the U.S. and many nations that were the aggressors (e.g., Britain finally early in the 19th century, Mexico, Germany, Japan). Passive non-violence, however, in the face of the initiation of force by aggressors -- and especially when non-violence is adopted as a policy in hopes that capitulation and compromise will pacify an enemy -- is not moral. It is the abandonment of the morality and of the certainty that one has a right to exist and a right to oppose the initiation of force with retaliatory force.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and I will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

When Obama stated that “as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their [King’s and Gandhi’s] examples alone,” his reluctance and regret were palpable. He is not preserving, protecting, or defending the Constitution, and by implication, this nation. He is deliberately violating the Constitution as much as any foreign aggressor. He is violating the oath of office he took on the steps of the Capitol building; he had every intention of violating it before taking that oath. It explains his every action since assuming office, and the nearly three dozen “czars” (and counting) he has empowered to rule the country as Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and George W. Bush could never have imagined.

The violence Obama does not dwell on is the violence of government force, which is behind every act of his administration to date. He is not a “living testimony to the moral force of non-violence.” He is living testimony to the immorality of force directed against other Americans. Virtually every president since at least Woodrow Wilson’s time has proposed or endorsed employing force against his fellow Americans. Obama, however, if he is to stay the course of his intention of “transforming” America of a kinder, gentler, “socially just” America, must surpass FDR’s incursions into the economy and lives of its citizens.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths -- that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. "Let us focus," he said, "on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions." A gradual evolution of human institutions.

A “gradual evolution of human institutions” to ensure a “more practical, more attainable peace”? Such as the corrupt United Nations? Its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.N.’s front man and walking delegate for world governance? Obama has also asserted that a declaration of war by a government on its own citizens -- as he has declared since assuming office -- is necessary to reach the “attainable peace” of across the board statism in all matters.

Obama’s socialist (or communist) premises are more explicitly stated in this passage:

It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive. It does not exist where children can't aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.

Food, water, medicine, shelter, and education provided how? By whom? By indentured servants working side by side in chain gangs for the good of all? Food prices have risen because farms once devoted to growing crops are now growing bio-fuels for the “green revolution.” Medicine Obama proposes to nationalize completely. Shelter has been subsidized by government programs since the end of WWII. Education has become the near monopoly of collectivist propagandists from kindergarten through college. That is the rot that has eaten away at the American ideals of individual rights and the separation of liberty from government force.

And that's why helping farmers feed their own people -- or nations educate their children and care for the sick -- is not mere charity. It's also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, more famine, more mass displacement -- all of which will fuel more conflict for decades.

That is why, to Obama, pouring billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into primitive sinkholes is not “mere charity.” It is a moral imperative, not to be questioned or doubted by Americans. Otherwise, there will be “conflicts,“ in addition to droughts, famine, and mass displacement. Those who question or doubt it are less than human. And Obama has telegraphed his intentions when he attends the Copenhagen climate change conference. There is “little scientific dispute” that the global warming “science” is sound? That is a direct reference to Climategate, because believing in the discredited science -- never mind the fraudulent data and the conspiracy of scientists to suppress or destroy data which contradict the “science” -- will give Americans a chance to prostrate themselves in further selfless service to the world, as penance for existing and as a duty to those whom America has purportedly “harmed.”

Of course, Obama cannot concede that it is governments that are responsible for droughts, famines and mass displacement. He rejects the idea that only those nations which are free enough do not cause these events within their own borders. Stalin believed in the soundness of the total collectivization of agriculture. He believed in it so much that he was willing to murder or starve to death millions of Russian peasants who did not believe in it.

Everything else Obama has ever said about “defending my nation” is just so much dissembling rhetoric. It is glittering, worthless excelsior. Actions speak louder than words, and Obama’s actions belie every fog-bound, patriotic-sounding assertion he has ever uttered.

In 1925, H.L. Mencken wrote in defense of liberty:

I believe that any invasion of it is immensely dangerous to the commonweal -- especially when that invasion is alleged to have a moral purpose. No conceivable moral purpose is higher than the right of the citizen to think whatever he pleases to think, and to carry on his private life without interference by others. If that right is taken away, then no moral system remains; all we have is a prison system. This begins to prevail in the United States.*

Obama has made it clear that he intends to take away that right, and to institute a prison system. He is merely the heir presumptive of the political trends in this country dating back at least a century and a quarter. It is time for Americans to oppose his intentions with massive civil disobedience if, for example, the health-care and cap-and-trade bills are sent from Congress to his desk for his signature -- before they are obliged to become rioting inmates.

*From “Autobiographical Notes, 1925,” in Notes on Democracy, by H.L. Mencken (1926). New York: Dissident Books, 2009, p. 10.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Climate “Creationists”

Global warming is a religion, not a science. The prospect of governing every action of every individual on the planet in the name of staving off “catastrophic climate change,” and charging especially the U.S. a fee for impoverishing it, makes belief in global warming as tenacious and anti-reason as the literal interpretation of the Bible is to a fundamentalist or evangelical holly-roller. The fraudsters and reivers have come too close to their goal of “world governance” to concede not only error, but the lies that sustained that error, as well. They want to rule, or at least see men ruled by others.

Global warming advocates are “creationists” because, in their view, man is the exclusive “creator” of the potential -- nay, they say the inevitability -- of catastrophic climate change.

It would not be irrelevant, then, to preface comments on Climategate by relating another instance of a furor instigated by religious creationists over a scientific finding, in this instance, the unnecessary carping over the discovery of the Java Man. The following discussion is from the blog site Creationist Arguments: Java Man.

Many creationists have claimed that Java Man, discovered by Eugene Dubois in 1893, was "bad science". Gish (1985) says that Dubois found two human skulls at nearby Wadjak at about the same level and had kept them secret; that Dubois later decided Java Man was a giant gibbon; and that the bones do not come from the same individual. Most people would find Gish's meaning of "nearby" surprising: the Wadjak skulls were found 65 miles (104 km) of mountainous countryside away from Java Man.

Similarly for "at approximately the same level": the Wadjak skulls were found in cave deposits in the mountains, while Java Man was found in river deposits in a flood plain (Fezer 1993). Nor is it true, as is often claimed, that Dubois kept the existence of the Wadjak skulls secret because knowledge of them would have discredited Java Man. Dubois briefly reported the Wadjak skulls in three separate publications in 1890 and 1892. Despite being corrected on this in a debate in 1982 and in print (Brace, 1986), Gish has continued to make this claim, even stating, despite not having apparently read Dubois' reports, that they did not mention the Wadjak skulls (Fezer 1993).

Lubenow does acknowledge the existence of Dubois' papers, but argues that since they were bureaucratic reports not intended for the public or the scientific community, Dubois was still guilty of concealing the existence of the Wadjak skulls. This is also incorrect; the journals in which Dubois published, although obscure, were distributed in Europe and America, and are part of the scientific literature. They are available in major libraries and have often been referred to by later researchers..

Based on his own theories about how brains had evolved and wishful thinking, Dubois did claim that Java Man was “a gigantic genus allied to the gibbons,” but this was not, as creationists imply, a retraction of his earlier claims that it was an intermediate between apes and humans. Dubois also pointed out that it was bipedal and that its brain size was "very much too large for an anthropoid ape", and he never stopped believing that he had found an ancestor of modern man (Theunissen 1989; Gould 1993; Lubenow 1992). (The creationist organization Answers in Genesis has now abandoned the claim that Dubois dismissed Java Man as a gibbon, and now lists it in their “Arguments we think creationists should NOT use” web page.)

Briefly, Eugene Dubois was as confused about his finding as the religionists were determined that it either was fabricated or that it could be explained away to conform to a literal interpretation of the Bible. And the excerpt above is as tedious a read as pouring over the CRU emails. But, it is worth the effort. One might ask oneself: Why is the author of that excerpt going to the trouble of answering the claims of anti-evidence, anti-reason creationists? Why would any scientist feel compelled to attempt to rebut the absurd claims of mystics? Briefly, because religion is still the default moral code of our time.

Incidentally, the “Arguments we think creationists should NOT use” web page bears reading, if not for laughs, then for a glimpse into the art of prevarication that has been employed by Bible thumpers and climate creationists alike.

Religion rears its ugly head here in today’s San Francisco Gate article in its defense of “bad science“ exposed. The article is slanted in favor of the believers of anthropogenic global warming.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said "the documents show systematic suppression of dissenting opinion."

True enough. But:

Joseph Romm, a physicist and senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress, said the evidence of warming is getting clearer while opponents are "redoubling their disinformation campaign."

Read the email exchanges. Are or are not Phil Jones and his colleagues working to suppress data that don’t fit their a priori conclusion that the climate is warming? Does that or does not that constitute a systematic suppression of dissenting opinion, a suppression that included mocking dissenters, denigrating their findings, and even dumping all the raw data? Was it or was not the omission and/or distortion of data an instance of “cherry-picking,” something the new deniers are accusing the skeptics of in regards to the emails themselves? In the face of incontrovertible evidence of doctoring the data to fit a political agenda, are or are not Romm and his allies launching their own disinformation campaign?

The scientists from two major research centers, a national think tank and NASA, claimed during a telephone news conference that the e-mail exchanges were taken out of context in an attempt to influence pending greenhouse gas emissions policies….It is, they said, a cynical, blatantly dishonest effort to cloud the fact that the world is now confronting a huge, potentially disastrous climactic shift…."There is so much information that tells us the planet has been warming," said Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "No independent study is going to come up with anything other than what we've already concluded."

Let’s see: Phil Jones recommending that A should be made to look like B, and if anyone questions the validity of that “trick,” tell him to go fly a kite -- this is a statement “taken out of context” by his critics to prove that he is committing fraud and so it shouldn’t be held against him? Aren’t such “tricks” calculated to “influence pending greenhouse gas emission policies”? Charging Jones with manipulating data to suit his bias for “global warming” is not an instance of “cynical, blatant” dishonesty? Instead of examining the surviving, adulterated data or even the statements in the emails, the “climate creationist” establishment resorts to casting aspersions on the motives of anyone who questions that establishment.

Then there is this gem:

The scientists dismissed the criticisms Friday as intellectually dishonest distortions by those who seek to discredit global warming for political or business reasons. When scientists talk about "tricks," pointed out several academics, they are often using colloquial jargon that means a method of dealing with a problem.

And these “2,500” scientists are not working to advance their own political agenda? They are not intellectually dishonest? They stand to have perpetuated their lucrative research grants, paid for by tax revenues, and that‘s all right? And, the term trick means what it means: a sleight of hand, a work of magic, a cunning action; the meanings are many, but they are all founded on the root concept of deception. Who has been caught distorting the data? Who has been caught deceiving others? Phil Jones and his friends in the CRU. As well as NASA and GISS. And there’s the EPA standing by to enforce the dictates of the Copenhagen Communiqué.

We believe in global warming. Ergo, it must be true. Now that’s religion!

If it were not for the projected astronomical costs of “combating” global warming, now “climate change” -- neither of which could be “combated” anyway, has anyone ever successfully “combated” a tsunami or a volcanic eruption? -- and the prospect of a massive government expropriation of the economy, this kind of unmitigated dishonesty on the part of politically correct “scientists” would not merit front page news.

The “climate creationists” protest too much. They would do themselves a service by taking the Fifth, as their crime boss predecessors did during the Senate organized crime hearings. They should be smart enough to know that anything they say from now on can incriminate them and be used against them.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Objectivist Blog Round-Up #125

Welcome to the December 3rd, 2009 edition of the Objectivist Round-Up. This week presents insight and analyses written by authors who are animated by Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. According to Ayn Rand:

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

"About the Author," Atlas Shrugged, Appendix.

So without any further delay (and in no particular order), here's this week's round-up:

Burgess Laughlin presents BkRev: Edwin Locke's Study Methods & Motivation posted at Making Progress, saying, "The theme of this review of Dr. Edwin Locke's book, Study Methods & Motivation, is that everyone -- not only students in formal schools -- who learns through reading or through listening to lectures can improve their results by acquiring more objective methods and stronger motivation in all phases of the learning process."

Sylvia Bokor presents A Comment on Rational Egoism posted at Sylvia Bokor Comments.

Avi Aharon presents Avi Aharon » Education in the objectivist state of Israel posted at Avi Aharon.

Beth Haynes presents Mammograms: The Road to Rationing? posted at Wealth is not the Problem, saying, "With the recent uproar over one government commission's new recommendations on breast cancer screening, I decided to go to the source. Unsurprisingly, their own report offers no hard evidence which would lead to their conclusions. It all commons down to "Cui bono?""

John McVey presents Concretes and integration in industry posted at John J McVey.

Wayne Marrs presents Is Income Equality Moral? posted at Life on Marrs, saying, "thoughts on how to talk to non-objectivists about income equality..."

Daniel Casper presents Whatever Happened to Suzette Kelo? posted at The Undercurrent, saying, "In a country based on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” what happened to Ms. Kelo’s liberty?"

Ottens presents Republican Party lost direction posted at Atlantic Sentinel, saying, "The U.S. Republican Party has lost direction because it no longer values its traditional individualist and free market positions."

Gus Van Horn presents "No State" Tuition for All posted at Gus Van Horn, saying, "The question I wish Jeff Jacoby had asked is, 'How is Massachusetts improved by forcing anyone to pay for anything that anybody else needs?'"

Diana Hsieh presents How to Find a Good Therapist posted at NoodleFood, saying, "I draw on Dr. Kenner's advice for finding a good therapist."

Stephen Bourque presents Dennis Prager: If There Is No God, Part 13 posted at One Reality, saying, "To place the source of rights outside of nature is to deny rights. It is an admission by the religious that they believe individual rights do not exist in the real world."

Edward Cline presents The IPCC’s Square Pegs and Round Holes posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, "The mushrooming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)-University of East Anglia-Climate Research Unit email scandal, dubbed “ClimateGate,” invites satire first, then serious examination."

Joseph Kellard presents Barbie in a Burka posted at The American Individualist, saying, "Despite feminist critics who attack her as a cause of anorexia among young women, the Barbie doll has come to symbolize the independent, attractive, fashionable career woman. But now, on her 50th birthday, she has had a burka thrown over her -- by Westerners!"

* * *

That concludes this edition of the round-up. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Objectivist round-up using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

UPDATE: Added missing submissions.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The IPCC’s Square Pegs and Round Holes

The mushrooming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)-University of East Anglia-Climate Research Unit email scandal, dubbed “ClimateGate,” invites satire first, then serious examination. We begin with an excerpt from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007. Read it and weep. There have been three other assessments, in 1990, 1995, and 2001. A fifth assessment is being prepared for 2014. What sold the IPCC on the credibility of global warming was the “hockey stick” graph of Al Gore notoriety. The fifth assessment -- if it is ever collated and written -- doubtless will feature baseball bats, the better to knock some sense into a doubting and skeptical public.

“The Fourth Working Group I Summary for Policymakers (SPM) was published on February 2, 2007 and revised on February 5, 2007

The key conclusions of the SPM were that:

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.

Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (human) greenhouse gas concentrations.

Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilized, although the likely amount of temperature and sea level rise varies greatly depending on the fossil intensity of human activity during the next century (pages 13 and 18).

The probability that this is caused by natural climatic processes alone is less than 5%.

World temperatures could rise by between 1.1 and 6.4 °C (2.0 and 11.5 °F) during the 21st century (table 3) and that:

Sea levels will probably rise by 18 to 59 cm (7.08 to 23.22 in) [table 3].

There is a confidence level >90% that there will be more frequent warm spells, heat waves and heavy rainfall.

There is a confidence level >66% that there will be an increase in droughts, tropical cyclones and extreme high tides.

Both past and future anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions will continue to contribute to warming and sea level rise for more than a millennium.

Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values over the past 650,000 years.”

The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), both U.N. organizations. The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the IPCC and former vice president Al Gore. Well, we all know what the Nobel Peace Prize is worth. Ask President Barack Obama, this year’s recipient.

The 2007 IPCC report contains and incorporates data cooked up by the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU), headed by Phil Jones. The CRU bills itself as “widely recognized as one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change.”

As one may see in the IPCC report above, not much global warming or climate change is attributed to natural causes. Less than five percent. The rest of it, according to the report, is all man’s doing. Our activities are warping those natural causes. The qualifier in the report, “natural climatic processes,” presumably exempts the sun from causing or contributing to those processes, provided one concedes that the processes are authentic and have happened or will happen.

The only value of any past and future IPCC report, to judge by the unearthed emails, is as sensational material for doom-and-gloom science fiction movie producers, who would keep employed many special-effects graphic artists. However, the best source of news about ClimateGate is Climate Depot. Not the mainstream media, which, with Congress and the White House, is doing its best to ignore the scandal. After all, billions and billions of dollars are at stake if the cap-and-trade bill is not passed and if the Copenhagen climate change treaty implodes on its authors. Al Gore and his venal ilk stand to not profit if that happens.

Environmentalists, global warming advocates, and the government all have a vested interest in the “truth” of catastrophic climate change. Not to mention car manufacturers and other industries that have either retrofitted their plants or invested in “green” industries to comply with anticipated federal carbon legislation. Think of the billions spent on hybrid cars and florescent light bulbs and solar panels and wind turbines, all contrived to combat non-existent global warming. Poof! It will all have been for naught. So, the economic and political consequences of ClimateGate go far, far beyond the issue of the veracity of a handful of climate scientists.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a division of the National Weather Service, is stammering astonishment that CO2 levels are not only not rising, but have nothing to do with global warming, which is not occurring. In fact, CO2 levels rise after temperature increases. The New York Times is “shocked, shocked” that fraud is taking place in climate science.

The New York Post ran an article on how school children are being indoctrinated (shall we say, “brainwashed”) about the “reality” of global warming. Asked about ClimateGate, White House “climate advisor” Carol Browner pretended that she had never heard the one about fifty million Frenchmen being as wrong as one.

"What am I going to do?" asked Browner. "Side with the couple of naysayers out there, or the 2,500 scientists?" -- who've drunk the Kool-Aid. "I'm sticking with the 2,500 scientists."

For a spot of sanity, listen to Lord Monckton, one of the original “skeptics” and “deniers.”

The chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, has more or less said that the lies, frauds, and cover-ups will not affect his or the IPCC’s conclusions about global warming.

Rajendra Pachauri defended the IPCC in the wake of apparent suggestions in emails between climate scientists at the University of East Anglia that they had prevented work they did not agree with from being included in the panel's fourth assessment report, which was published in 2007.…The emails were made public this month after a hacker illegally obtained them from servers at the university….Pachauri said the large number of contributors and rigorous peer review mechanism adopted by the IPCC meant that any bias would be rapidly uncovered.

What he did not mention is that the “peer review” process was as rigged as were the data. Papers, findings, and statements by global warming “skeptics” and “deniers” were excoriated and deep-sixed as a matter of covert policy, apparently encouraged by CRU director Phil Jones.

Pachauri is concerned with neither the truth nor the lies.

Some commentators, including the former chancellor Nigel Lawson and the environmental campaigner and Guardian writer George Monbiot, have called on Jones to resign but Pachauri said he did not agree. He said an independent inquiry into the emails would achieve little, but there should be a criminal investigation into how the emails came to light.

Pachauri’s first priority is to get the guy responsible for exposing the fraud and making him look like a fool. However, that “hacker” should be nominated for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize. He has done the world a service that cannot be matched by any Prize winner in the past. He has uncovered the near pathological obsession of the IPCC and its acolytes with establishing a “world governance” body that would ensure that the world’s population, and in particular that of the U.S., is reduced to the standard of living of men who lived in the Medieval Warm Period so neglected and blanked-out by the global warming harpies. That hacker properly invaded the “privacy” of men on government payrolls or who live off of looted taxes (e.g., Pachauri) who have advanced costly and elaborate junk science to attain a political agenda.

(One wishes that another hacker would raid the “private” emails of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Henry Waxman, and their health-care bill allies to see what they think of the trillion-dollar scam they wish to foist on this country.)

What is fascinating in a morbid sense is the almost hilarious evasive behavior of Phil Jones and his colleagues at the CRU as they try to fit square pegs into round holes. A Portuguese website, EcoTretas, contains many of the email exchanges between Jones and his co-conspirators as they scramble to counter the invasion of reality and truth-tellers. Many of the damning statements are highlighted by the site host. However, there are two un-highlighted statements that merit special scrutiny.

Under the heading, “Fixing the data,” Jones, as long ago as 2000, complains:

From: Phil Jones, Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2000 13:04:24+0000
As all our (Mike, Tom and CRU) all show that the first few centuries of the millennium were cooler than the 20th century, we will come in for some flak from the skeptics saying we’re wrong because everyone knows it was warmer in the Medieval period. We can show why we believe we are correct with independent data from glacial advances and even slower responding proxies, however, what are the chances of putting together a group of a very few borhole [sic] series that are deep enough to get the last 1000 years. Basically trying to head off criticisms of the IPCC chapter, but good science in that we will be rewriting people’s perceived wisdom about the course of temperature change over the past millennium.

“Everyone knows it was warmer in the Medieval period.” So, let’s forget it. Omit it from the picture altogether. More important is Jones’s wish to “rewrite people’s perceived wisdom.” Which means: changing reality, or trying to. Which means: committing fraud and deceit.

Under the heading, “Wrongdoing,” Jones, five years later, wishes again:

From: Phil Jones, Date: Tue Jul 5 15:15:55 2005
If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences. This isn't being political, it is being selfish.

But that damned climate just wouldn’t change for the worse. The data just wouldn’t conform to his wishes. How frustrating! It’s more important to be proved right, than to adhere to and respect the truth that all indicators pointed to global cooling. So, let’s just say that global warming is occurring anyway, that CO2 is running amok, and that we’re the cause, and it’s getting hotter and hotter. Maybe nobody will notice. Repeat it often enough, and it will become true. Lots of friends in the MSM who will chant with us.

So the IPCC, Phil Jones, and his fellow Chicken Littles are all learning the hard way that square pegs have never gotten along with round holes. And that skies will not fall on command.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fork-Tongued in Washington

This is in the way of a correction to my “Fork-Tongued in Shanghai” (November 21), and of a footnote about our fork-tongued Senators as they sanction the groundwork of totalitarianism in this country.

This statement is corrected:

What Obama said about Sino-American relations in Shanghai is irrelevant here. China is the largest creditor of the U.S., holding about $800 billion in U.S. government securities, perhaps only three times what a health-care bill is estimated to cost over a decade.

I subsequently added a comment to the Shanghai post:

Last night (November 21) the Washington Post headlined: "Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) this evening secured the 60 votes needed to move an $848 billion health-care reform bill to the Senate floor for debate, clearing the way for amendment deliberations to begin after the Thanksgiving recess."

So, this criminally irresponsible and morally evil legislation actually tops the $800 billion in U.S. government securities held by the Chinese government. Of course, there's no way the $800 billion debt can be paid. Now it's going to be $1.6 trillion -- and counting.

And counting, indeed. My projection of the debt doubling to $1.6 trillion was literal and quite innocent. Americans for Limited Government's Bill Wilson issued the following statement today:

"On Saturday, the Senate voted 60-39 to proceed to the so-called ’public option’ legislation that will cost more than $2 trillion over ten years when fully implemented, ration health care away from seniors, raise the cost of premiums, drive the American people off of private health options, and bankrupt the Treasury.”

And counting, again. But, accepting my modest projection of only $1.6 trillion -- and this is exclusive of the billions in expenditure and cost to the economy incurred by whatever other socialist/fascist legislation is incubating in Congress’s collective mind, such as cap-and-trade, and exclusive of the costs of the looting, redistributionist “climate change” treaty President Obama is expected to sign next month in Copenhagen -- the logical question to ask is: How can the U.S. honor its debt to China, and also pay for socialist health care? Where is all this money supposed to come from? Is it the diminishing private, productive sector of the U.S. economy, which would become a mere servant to government debt service? For how long?

Captive, command economies and a fettered citizenry produce according to the law of diminishing returns, unless it can siphon off wealth from another economy and benefit from the blood transfusions made possible by semi-free nations. Is this, or is it not, a formula for catastrophic economic collapse? Yes. Will it be an open invitation for dictatorship to “take charge” of a crisis of the government’s making? Yes.

The question assumes a frozen, static debt figure, astronomical as it may be. Total U.S. government debt to foreign holders is nearly $3.5 trillion, with China followed by Japan, the United Kingdom and OPEC, in that order.

As for the scale of federal indebtedness in all categories, that figure also boggles the imagination. See these Federal Reserve calculations for 2005. These are Alan Greenspan figures and legacy.

Economies and human actions are not static. Economies either atrophy or grow. Men flee from atrophying economies -- when they can, when they and their wealth can remove to friendlier economic climes without being arrested and shaken down -- or they create new wealth that allows economies to grow, provided they are not barred from action by fiat law. The Emerson Electric Co. of Chicago is a case in point, cited by The Wire: Washington Insider’s Report. The ALG title for the report is “Atlas Shrugs.”

Finally, here is a breakdown of the 60-39 Senate vote on whether or not to “debate” the Senate’s version of the health care bill, also now known as the ReidCare bill, which incorporates all the expropriatory and extortionate provisions and language as the House Pelosi/ObamaCare bill. And then some. The names of the guilty are there for all to see.

The “debate” will not proceed on anything as honest as a principle, not even a statist, collectivist one. As happened in the House, it will be in the nature of horse-trading, arm-twisting and sugar-coated corruption instigated by malice-driven humanitarians.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fork-Tongued in Shanghai

One might be tempted to pen a dark comedy about it. Don’t bother. President Barack Obama has just added this latest act to his own peculiar satire, authored by his speechwriters and scripted by professional censors.

In Shanghai, China to bolster relations between China and the U.S., he appeared in a “town hall” that was as thoroughly rigged as his press conferences and other “town hall” meetings in the U.S. He addressed a group of Chinese government-vetted students and answered eight pre-selected questions from the audience and over the Internet.

“You see, freedom of speech in America is not given to the people by the president but is something that the people use to supervise their government and president, to protect themselves.”

No, don’t take heart. Obama did not say it. It was said by a Chinese blogger and novelist, Yang Hengjun (on Twitter via a proxy server, because Twitter is blocked in China) in admiration for and agreement with Obama‘s assertion that Americans can criticize their political leaders without fear of reprisal. Hengjun understands what neither Obama nor his White House minions and departmental appointees do not: that a free press and free speech can oppose, criticize, and even check the depredations of government.

Hengjun understood that freedom of speech is a right that originates in individuals, and is not a privilege or right bestowed by a government on a nation’s citizens.

What Obama said about Sino-American relations in Shanghai is irrelevant here. China is the largest creditor of the U.S., holding about $800 billion in U.S. government securities, perhaps only three times what a health-care bill is estimated to cost over a decade. China is not going to sign any climate change treaty next month in Oslo that would oblige it to cut back on CO2 emissions, and so agree to economic suicide, no matter how much Obama “prods“ the super creditor. Nor is it going to cease censoring its press or the Internet, it is never going to cease suppressing freedom of speech. China is a totalitarian country. It hosted the visit of a nascent totalitarian, President Obama. It allowed him to visit to amuse him, and to take his measure, just as Europe and the Mideast allowed him to visit, to make his speeches, and to take his measure.

While Obama and his team indulged in wishful thinking, the Chinese government called all the shots.

The particulars of the town hall, including whether it could even be called one, were the subject of delicate negotiations between the White House and the Chinese up to the last minute. It remained unclear, for instance, whether - and how broadly - it would be broadcast on television and how much of a hand the central government had in choosing those allowed to question the U.S. president.

Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Obama would call at random on several of those in the audience, to be made up of hundreds of students hand-picked by the department heads of Shanghai-area universities, and would also answer questions solicited in advance by the White House from "various sources on the Internet."

What Obama said in China about freedom and speech and censorship, however, is far more relevant here, because it bodes ill for the future of freedom of speech in America. In answer to a question about the “Great Firewall of China” -- the Chinese government’s absolute control over what is said and seen on the Internet -- a question asked, incidentally, not by a Chinese student, but by the U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, he replied:

"I'm a big supporter of non-censorship," Obama said. "I recognize that different countries have different traditions. I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet — or unrestricted Internet access — is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged."

Obama is a “big supporter of non-censorship”? What is “non-censorship”? Is it an awkward grasp of the concept of freedom of speech, or an inverted synonym? No. It cannot even have an antonym. If, to paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary definition of censor, censorship is the “inspection of all books, journals, dramatic pieces, etc., before publication, to secure that they shall contain nothing immoral, heretical, or offensive to the government,” then non-censorship is an anti-concept. It is the “not censoring” of speech in any venue or form. That is, it is the staying of the government’s hand to censor it. It is the implicit acknowledgement that a government has the power and the will to censor, but chooses not to, for the moment. It is an Orwellian anti-concept possible only to a power-seeker at home with censoring and non-censoring.

Obama did not say that he is a “big supporter of freedom of speech” for two reasons: It would have been offensive to the Chinese totalitarian government -- and because he does not believe in it.

Obama stated that he recognized that “different countries have different traditions. I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet -- or unrestricted Internet access -- is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged.

He avoided the term “freedom of speech” again, and likened it to “tradition,” or custom. Message to China’s communist/fascist rulers: You have a long tradition of censorship and suppression of speech. On the other hand, we in the United States have a long “tradition” of freedom of speech. So, it’s just a difference of tradition. I won’t make a distinction between our traditions and yours, nor judge your regime.

And for how long does Obama intend our free Internet to be a “source of strength”? Not for long.

Which brings us to his term “unrestricted Internet access,” a euphemism for one of Obama’s key goals, “net neutrality,” or, government control and censorship of the Internet. He promised to promote and enact such controls two years ago on MTV. Net neutrality, in a nutshell, is “the idea that broadband operators shouldn't be allowed to block or degrade Internet content and services--or charge content providers an extra fee for speedier delivery or more favorable placement.”

Suppose broadband operators want to block or degrade Internet content they do not wish to carry? Suppose customers do not mind paying extra for speedier delivery and more favorable placement? Well, that is beside the point, according to Obama. Like newspapers and other venues of speech and entertainment, broadband operators are regarded as “public servants” serving the public by providing it information and entertainment, and should not be permitted to discriminate against any comers. Moreover, no one should be permitted to discriminate in their favor, that is, exercise his freedom of choice. All must be “equal.”

To better concretize the issue: State-mandated smoking bans in restaurants, bars, businesses and other venues -- in some localities, even in one’s own residence or in a public park -- are enacted to favor an alleged majority of non-smokers for purported health reasons. This is the literal, partial seizure of private property for the benefit of one group. Call it the selective application of the power of eminent domain, in answer to the proclaimed “right” of non-smokers to drink or dine or work in a smoke-free, “un-degraded” environment, in defiance of the fact that they drink, dine or work in an environment that is someone else‘s property.

Business owners and proprietors nominally own their property or enterprises -- but only for as long as they submit to the ban. They are not allowed to discriminate between smokers and non-smokers -- call it “patron neutrality,” with a patron forbidden to light up lest he offend someone or “endanger” someone’s health -- and all customers must be reduced to the same state of being non-smokers.

Extrapolate that phenomenon to the Internet -- substitute bars, restaurants and businesses with broadband operators -- now call them providers, “neutral” bureaucratic jargon for anyone or any business that creates and offers a “service,” a term that has spread like a corrosive into virtually every realm of trade -- and it is easy to see what the consequences will be: a government policed Internet, just like the Chinese one. One will hear only what the government wishes one to hear, read, or watch.

Obama may have been hoping to set a personal example for China's leaders when he said he believes that free discussion, including criticism that may be annoying to him, [that] makes him "a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear."

Obama has made it eminently clear that he would rather not risk hearing opinions that conflict with his own. Recall his efforts to enlist Americans, at the height of the nationwide Tea Parties, to report “fishy” opinions about him and his administration directly to the White House. Remember that he wishes to compel radio and television stations to comply with a new “Fairness Doctrine” under the magic cloak of “diversity” and has chosen members of his Politburo to monitor and enforce that policy.

He appointed Mark Lloyd chief diversity officer of the Federal Communications Commission, who wishes to make private broadcasting companies pay licensing fees equal to their total operating costs to allow public broadcasting outlets to spend the same on their operations as the private companies do.

Obama appointed Julius Genachowski, his former Harvard Law School classmate and a busybody social worker, as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Doubtless he will do Obama’s bidding, just for old times’ sake, and formulate a new speech policy that would regulate the Internet to ensure net neutrality.

Last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed strengthening the agency’s current guidelines on net neutrality by formally adopting them as regulation. He also proposed two additional rules, including one aimed at preventing Internet companies from discriminating against any traffic to certain types of content or services. In other words, all traffic would have to be treated the same.

Net neutrality was a cornerstone of Obama’s technology priorities during his campaign. Genachowski, his top campaign tech adviser, was a key architect behind those plans.

Cass Sunstein, head of the White Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, can rule on virtually any brand of speech anywhere. Indeed, one blogger reported:

The recent Obama intended appointment of Cass Sunstein…is the next nail in the coffin of the First Amendment. In this position Sunstein will have powers that are unprecedented and very far reaching; not merely mind-boggling but with explicit ability to use the courts to stifle free speech if it opposes Obama policies. In particular, Sunstein thinks that the bloggers have been “rampaging out of control” and that “new laws need to be written” to contain them.

Doubtless this blogger, as well as countless others who disagree with Obama that the Constitution is “deeply flawed,” has been marked for gagging by administration snoops and FCC bloodhounds on the scent of “non-diversity.”

Of course, Mao admirer Anita Dunn, White House communications director and failed Fox-hunter who was a “victim” of opinions Obama would rather not hear, is gone, “but will remain as a consultant to the White House on the communications and strategic matters.” Her husband, attorney Robert Bauer and a long-time Obama devotee, has been appointed White House counsel to fend off more “frivolous” allegations and charges against Obama and members of his “team,” a political organization whose suffocating power is intended to extend from the White House rose garden to every nock and cranny of American life.

The satire is that in Shanghai, Obama was subjected to the same censorship that he wishes to impose on America. It was the professional totalitarians showing the ropes to an amateur.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Natural Allies Against Liberty

Just as the Witch Doctor is impotent without Attila, so Attila is impotent without the Witch Doctor; neither can make his power last without the other.*

I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.**

In all ages, hypocrites, called priests, have put crowns upon the heads of thieves, called kings.***

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops lent its endorsement to the 2,000+ page health care bill passed by the House last week (H.R. 3962), when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her arm-twisting cohorts persuaded others to okay the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. The amendment would prohibit insurance companies from including coverage for federally-subsidized abortions in their health plans, or so restrict them that it would not encourage any insurance company to include an abortion as a covered medical procedure.

The amendment, which passed by a vote of 240 to 194, would be included in the so-called “public option” of the legislation. The term “public option,” however, is a deceptive misnomer. There is nothing “public” about it. It would place a government bureaucrat in between an insurer and the insured. It should be called the “bureaucratic option.”

What has not been paid much attention is the fact that an organization of Catholic clergy has prevailed upon a nominally secular government to impose its religious dogma -- that fetuses are persons from the moment of conception -- on the rest of the country, in the face of opposition by several other religious groups, including one called Catholics for Choice. Of course, few in Congress, least of all Pelosi and her mandating munchkins and trolls, care to think of the First Amendment of the Constitution or even to give it serious credence, or perhaps devote two seconds of consideration of it in their power-obsessed minds. The words in that amendment are simple, clear and brief. It states that:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The establishment clause prohibits Congress from creating a state religion, while the free exercise clause bars Congress from granting “most-favored religion” status to any religion at the expense of or over another (that is, while not literally creating a state religion).

Balance that against the mammoth health care bill with its millions of words. The question, however, is: Can the endorsement of the anti-abortion provision by the bishops, together with the concession by Pelosi (also a Catholic) and her allies in response to the peevish machinations of Stupak and his allies, be construed as the establishment of a religion?

Actually, no. But it hovers close to it. In fact, the American Catholic Church is a major recipient of federal funds. Its collection basket overflows with taxpayer money. It should come as no surprise that the bishops could exert such extraordinary influence on a nominally secular Congress. Politico reports:

With well over half of their revenue coming from the government, it is safe to say that Catholic hospitals survive on government funding as well as contributions from private sources….Catholic Charities, the domestic direct service arm of the bishops, also depends on state and federal dollars. Sixty-seven percent of Catholic Charities’ income comes from government funding. That represents over $2.6 billion in 2008 — an amount that is more than three times as large as the next largest charitable recipient of federal funds, the YMCA. Just as Catholic hospitals do, Catholic Charities receives enormous quantities of government dollars while abiding by existing constitutional and statutory requirements that prevent government sponsorship of religion.

How the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the health care bill came to be an issue is completely consistent with the character of the bill itself. In a move that smacks of extortion of extortionists. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat (and Catholic) who sponsored the amendment, together with Pennsylvania Republican representative Joseph Pitts (an evangelical Christian), promised that they and other Democrats and Republicans would block passage of the bill if it permitted the federal subsidy of abortions in conjunction with the bill’s insurance coverage. Joining them in that maneuver were Democratic Representatives Ike Skelton of Missouri, John Tanner and Lincoln Davis of Tennessee, and Dan Boren of Oklahoma.

They were apparently moved to initiate that maneuver by the first bishops’ letter, dated October 10, in which, among other things, the bishops demanded that the bill:

Exclude mandated coverage for abortion, and incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion. It is essential that the legislation clearly apply to this new program longstanding and widely supported federal restrictions on abortion funding and mandates, and protections for rights of conscience. No current bill meets this test.

Otherwise, the bishops warned:

If final legislation does not meet our principles, we will have no choice but to oppose the bill. We remain committed to working with the Administration, Congressional leadership, and our allies to produce final health reform legislation that will reflect our principles.

Once the amendment had passed, however, the bishops wrote the House:

We are very pleased that the House leadership has agreed to allow the essential Stupak-Pitts-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment to be considered by the House. This amendment will add to the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) crucial provisions that maintain the current protections against abortion funding and mandates. Specifically, it will achieve our objective of applying the provisions of the Hyde amendment to the public health plan and on the affordability credits in the exchanges called for in the legislation.

Passing this amendment allows the House to meet our criteria of preserving the existing protections against abortion funding in the new legislation. It also would fulfill President Obama’s commitment in this area. Most importantly, it will ensure that no government funds will be used for abortion or health plans which include abortion. It is a major step forward.

In the bishops’ first letter there is no reference to or mention of the premise that abortion is immoral, or that fetuses are “persons” with “rights.” Those are merely covered by the disingenuous phrases, “rights of conscience” and “our principles.” What “rights” and what “principles”? As Ayn Rand would retort: Blank-out. In the second, congratulatory letter, the bishops felt they no longer needed to mention “rights” or “principles.” They were only too happy to pat the Stupak syndicate on the back.

Catholics and their clergy are not the only religious groups that oppose abortion on moral grounds. There are secular opponents, as well. The question, then, is not whether there are any provable grounds to such a position, but whether or not such an idea, grounded on mere emotionalist assertions, has any business influencing any legislation.

In both of the bishops’ letters, the premise is not spoken, revealed, or even implied. It has been merely incorporated into the arid language of the bill concerning federal funding of abortions and insurance coverage.

In an apparent digression here, it would be apropos to quote Ayn Rand from her 1964 Playboy interview. Asked about her alleged remark about the cross being a symbol of torture, she replied:

To begin with, I never said that. It's not my style….What is correct is that I do regard the cross as the symbol of the sacrifice of the ideal to the nonideal. Isn't that what it does mean? Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the non-ideal, or virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors. That is precisely how the symbolism is used. That is torture.

What is the bishops’ premise? What is their principle? Just as environmentalists expect man to sacrifice his well-being, standard of living, longevity, and happiness in the name of “preserving” the earth or the climate or polar bears or weeds, women are specifically expected to be virtuous by sacrificing their lives and happiness for the sake of a non-ideal, that is, for the sake of a fetus, or a non-person.

So it is logical that the bishops would endorse the entire, sacrifice-through-coercion health care legislation. It is doubtful that they actually believe in the nonsense that fetuses have “rights.” They know, in the dark, unexamined cores of their souls, that the bill is a prescription for slavery and sacrifice to all the “non-ideal” men and women in the country. They are the Witch Doctors working hand-in-hand with the Attilas. Virtue comes from the point of a gun. They pose as “pro-life,” when, in fact, they are anti-life.

Had the bishops not intervened and played politics with the House sponsors and advocates of the health care bill, the provisions that cover insurance-covered abortions would probably have remained untouched. This is aside from the issue that the whole bill virtually appropriates Americans’ bodies and wealth for the sake of the poor, the uninsured, illegal immigrants -- and fetuses. The bishops are indifferent to the fact that the bill lays the groundwork for totalitarianism in this country. They are oblivious to the virtual enslavement of the medical profession. Their “rights of conscience” and “principles” trump those of all other Americans.

The bishops are not only anti-choice in the matter of abortion, but anti-choice in the most fundamental sense of individual rights. The Bill of Rights means as little to them as it does to most members of Congress. They are the natural allies of the totalitarians in the House and Senate.

*”For the New Intellectual,” in For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. New York: Signet, 1961, p. 23.

**Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 499.

***Robert G. Ingersoll, 1833-1899, Prose Poems and Selections, 1884. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 190.